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Old stock is well past its use by date

Jessica Brown

This week’s Indicator poll has a shocking statistic.

According to the 50 contemporary menswear indies and 50 contemporary womenswear indies polled, a depressing 88% of menswear indies and 44% of womenswear indies are putting autumn 09 stock back on the shopfloor for autumn 10. It’s no wonder the market is having it so tough.

One of the major issues facing every high street is a lack of footfall. Quite frankly, if a shopper has made the effort to visit a destination store at the start of the season, it would be massively disappointing to be met with a rail of last year’s dusty merchandise and is hardly conducive to driving repeat visits.

At this level of the market it would be almost impossible to disguise old stock given that autumn 10 trends helpfully moved on to soft silhouettes from autumn 09’s harsher structure.

Having shared the stage at Pure London this week with two of the UK’s leading womenswear indies - Deryane Tadd, owner of The Dressing Room in St Albans, and Jan Shutt, chief executive of Sunday Best in Rawtenstall, Lancashire, who imparted their top tips for successful indie retailing - it was clear that, for them, recycling old stock was a cardinal sin.

When a line is dead (and if the supplier isn’t prepared to do a stock swap) it needs to be shipped out sharpish. Dead stock ties up cash which limits retailers’ ability to bring in new merchandise to persuade shoppers to spend. It’s true that, apart from the long-awaited return of the trouser, womenswear trends have moved slowly for spring 11. Sure, brands continue to play it safe in difficult climes, but that’s no excuse for not trawling the market for special items or exclusive labels. Shoppers want them now more than ever. Thankfully many of you did just that at Pure London this week. For those that didn’t, you’re missing an essential trick.


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